India's history is intricately woven into its architectural wonders, and through meticulous restoration initiatives, some such treasures have been put back to their former glory. From sprawling heritage hotels and old railway stations in the country, to iconic temples and cultural complexes, here we have curated a list of 7 stunning restoration projects that have helped preserve history and reimagine India's cultural heritage.
The vibrant art district of Mumbai, known as Kala Ghoda, which translates to the "black horse," underwent a renaissance thanks to the efforts of ABM Architects. The name harks back to the British colonial era when a bronze statue of King Edward graced the site. Currently housed at the Victoria Gardens Zoo, this historic statue may soon be joined by a new sculpture, all part of the Kala Ghoda Association's (KGA) mission. The KGA, a non-profit organisation, is dedicated to restoring old structures and buildings in the area, breathing fresh life into this cultural hub.
Built in the Italian Renaissance Revival style during the late 19th to early 20th century, Lal Bagh Palace stands as a testament to the opulence of the Holkar dynasty, one of India's most influential Maratha rulers. Abha Narain Lambah Associates, entrusted with the architectural consultancy, are working on the museum master plan, architectural and interior designs, and various other aspects. The World Monuments Fund sponsored this endeavour for the Government of Madhya Pradesh funded through the 13th Finance Plan.
The restoration philosophy for The City Palace, guided by DRONAH (Development and Research Organization for Nature, Arts, and Heritage), goes beyond mere technical refurbishment. The gorgeous palace has preserved the history and heritage of the Mewar Family, along with its socio-cultural and geographical context. The City Palace Museum, a beautiful heritage site, remains deeply intertwined with the social and ritual traditions of the Mewar region, and conservation efforts prioritise maintaining this continuity. The Mewar Family frequently uses the various artefacts in festivals and annual rituals.
Under the auspices of Western Railways and architectural firm Abha Narain Lambah Associates, Bandra Railway Station underwent a second phase of restoration in 2008. With an estimated cost of approximately INR 12 crore, this ambitious redevelopment ushered in several enhancements. From restoring the iconic red-tiled roof to repairing damaged woodwork and stained glass, this project breathed new life into one of Mumbai's most recognisable historic landmarks.
Occupying a sprawling 156 acres on an island in the Cauvery River, Tamil Nadu's Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple of Srirangam is not only India's largest religious site but also one of the world's largest temple complexes. The temple's extensive renovation and beautification project, valued at INR 20 crore, garnered the prestigious Award of Merit from UNESCO. An international jury of heritage conservationists recognised the temple's remarkable restoration among 43 applications from 10 countries across the Asia-Pacific region.
While many fortunate travellers have had the privilege of staying at the Taj Falaknuma Palace, few are aware of its remarkable restoration journey. Princess Esra Jah, the former wife of the 8th Nizam of Hyderabad, decided to restore this ancestral palace, constructed in 1894, to its former glory. In 2010, with the restoration overseen by Esra Jah and RMA Architects, the Taj Group assumed the task of transforming it into a heritage hotel. The restoration involved extensive work, from decorative inlaid furniture to crystal glass chandeliers, handcrafted tapestries, 10 types of leather, 32 varieties of Italian marble, and carved balustrades, all meticulously sourced and imported from around the world. The newly renovated hotel opened its doors to guests in November 2010, and the results of this labour of love are nothing short of breathtaking.
The Flora Fountain, a flowing blend of design, natural elements, and heritage, was constructed in 1864 by the Agri-horticultural Society of Western India. This iconic landmark has been the focus of an extensive restoration project led by Vikas Dilawari Architects. The restoration endeavours seek to revive the fountain's water engineering and address past interventions. Additionally, the project aims to rectify leakages, clean soiled surfaces, and adorn the circular trough with Italian marble. Phase I of the project focuses on restoring this Grade I landmark of Mumbai, with Phase II set to enhance its surroundings.